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European Corn Borer (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) Tunneling and Drought Stress: Effects on Corn Yield

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The effect of simultaneous stresses from European corn borer, Ostrtnia nubt/ a/is (Hubner), tunneling and drought stress on corn, Zea mays L., yield was evaluated in a 2-yr field study. Physiological yield losses (i.e., potential yield that was not produced) and potential harvest yield losses (i.e., yield loss from stalk breakage) were both evaluated. European corn borer larvae were manually infested in the plants at corn pollen shed. Physiological yield losses up to 59.1% occurred in plants grown with slight irrigation (5% of full irrigation amount) compared with fully irrigated plants. An infestation of five larvae per plant (corresponding to 3.25 cavities per plant) reduced the corn yield across the irrigation gradient by an average of 18.8 and 13.3% in 1987 and 1988, respectively, compared with undamaged plants. Under conditions of severe drought stress, the percentage yield loss per larva generally increased as the soil moisture level decreased. In 1987, plants grown in soils near the field capacity moisture level suffered a 3.1% loss per larva, compared with a 7.1% loss in plants grown in dry soils (slightly over the permanent wilting point). Yield losses from larval tunneling were primarily caused by a reduction in kernel size rather than a reduction in kernels per ear. Drought stress frequently reduced both kernels per ear and kernel density. In addition, European corn borer tunneling resulted in a 9.3% yield loss from unharvestable ears.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 1991

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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